Sunday, 16 December 2012

Prayer for Newtown II

Lord, we cannot
lift up our hearts
today. The hot
breath of chaos draws
tears from our eyes.
We crouch in silent 
playgrounds trembling
as little ghosts
tumble by in wakes
of leaves. We stare
hollow-eyed as we
enumerate the paths
of could have
lead to anywhere
but here. We press
against the door,
hide in the closet,
call to you,
but evil seeks us
out and we cannot
lift up our hearts
because we are
placing them in a
score of tiny

Prayer for Newtown I

In this time
of trial I ask not
for the emptied skull
of my enemy, your
intercession in flame
and retribution, the
cessation of bloody
palms, or a salve for
all the skin-stripped 
and salted breathless
held souls of America.

I do not ask for
the return of a Savior
whose death for our
sins seems a half
measure compared to
the grinning demons
our lost boys become.

I do not ask for hope;
I ask for amnesty.

You say we stole
the knowledge
of good & evil -
let us return it.

If not, finish us 
off for good
before we do it
for evil.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Newtown’s Law

there are many holes
too wide and deep
to be filled by eyes they
are stepped
gingerly of
heels placed
care a
blind dance
averted of
shaking hands
circumscribing the void
this pit of
silent static
and dead children
no one
looks up
lead keeps 

Some tragedies are beyond my scope of empathy. Some rationales exceed my capacity to set aside love. If I can’t write about I try to write around, to show the shape of what I can’t describe. This poem could apply to any gun massacre, but today it is for Newtown, CT.

Thursday, 13 December 2012


Three named
clothespins play
daily hopscotch on
three sheets of
construction paper.
The dog is on
red. We caught her on
the couch. My son (on green)
is the arbiter of her color and
mine. I choose his, but he
moves the pins.
I should probably be
on yellow
every day. I'm
lucky he's in

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Prayer and Agoniste

It derived from the blown and cratered
gristle of Sinai, oral lore codified
by relentless centuries of infant skin
scraps, torn hair, and bloody stones
yet, now, once, we upon a

time saw a singular sheep, fresh
sheared, in-penned, dulled by
childish pats, ever beshepherded.
once seen, but not since.
and, told we are sheep for 

shepherds, sinly conscience
obstinate, abstinent, stolen from
Eden, so its use must be wrong, right
from preying judas goats.

O my God, 
to be a farmer like Cain, the sacrifice
accepted as rot rather than holocaust,
a season, then renewal, time more your style.
O my God,

I know you through my salt crusted 
forehead and dirty fingers, I know you
through scum and dung and
desperation. O my God, I
feel you in gripped fists and blazing eyes.

A thousand years of humble homilies
a desert kindred upthrust and by
now - forgotten the forked tongue.
why should we be sheep when you made
us men?

we used to speak with the jawbones of
the wild ass, long-haired
nomads, singing in 
roughspun wool. 

I’m basically using my rusty anthropological education and sundry other learning to express exasperation regarding the Christian emphasis that we are sheep and God shepherds us. That’s an easy metaphor used by a nomadic tribe of herders to explain their theology in terms they could understand. Since sheep are considered remarkably dumb and meek, it’s also a useful way for, say, a priestly hierarchy to enforce control and adherence for a few thousand years.

We can be God’s and be men as well. He’s not the God of sheep.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Cuckoo Wasps

and as the winged
insects pour forth from hinged
skull, a stretch no
more than reason - the timbalous
rudiments of flight on frisking
wings - the staples of summered
dusk - late sun shattering
on nicks of stained
glass - of infiltration - a
stolen clasp of mind - a
decanted vacuum where
once built an inside city
- fed upon by bandit
brilliance and husked by
the great abatement

there appears in the sky
the first swallow
of many.

This is one of those flanking poems, like a sheepdog, spiraling in on a point that, in this case, remains shrouded in the metaphor. Basically the idea is that ideas are all mostly stolen. They’re pretty food, and when you all of yours get eaten by something, you can always eat someone else’s. Still not exactly right, but over-explaining doesn’t do much to sate the appetite.